The Man and the Moment
MICHAEL ARRANSTOUN folded a letter which he had been reading for the seventh time,
with a vicious intentness, and then jumping up from the big leather chair in which he had
been buried, he said aloud, "Damn!"
When a young, rich and good-looking man says that particular word aloud with a fearful
grind of the teeth, one may know that he is in the very devil of a temper!
Michael Arranstoun was!
And, to be sure, he had ample reason, as you, my friend, who may happen to have begun
this tale, will presently see.
It is really most irritating to be suddenly confronted with the consequences of one's
follies at any age, but at twenty-four, when otherwise the whole life is smiling for one, it
seems quite too hard.
The frightful language this well-endowed young gentleman now indulged in, half aloud
and half in thought, would be quite impossible to put on paper! It contained what almost
amounted to curses for a certain lady whose appearance, could she have been seen at this
moment, suggested that of a pious little saint.
"How the h—— can I keep from marrying her!" Mr. Arranstoun said more than aloud
this time, and then kicking an innocent footstool across the room, he called his bulldog,
put on his cap and stamped out on to the old stone balcony which opened from this
apartment, and was soon stalking down the staircase and across the lawn to a little door in
the great fortified wall, which led into the park.
He had hardly left the room when, from the wide arched doorway of his bed-chamber
beyond, there entered Mr. Johnson, his superior valet, carrying some riding-boots and a
silk shirt over his arm. You could see through the open door that it was a very big and
comfortable bedroom, which had evidently been adapted to its present use from some
much more stately beginning. A large, vaulted chamber it was, with three narrow
windows looking on to the grim courtyard beneath.
Michael Arranstoun had selected this particular suite for himself when his father died ten
years before, and his mother was left to spoil him, until she, too, departed from this world
when he was sixteen.
What a splendid inheritance he had come into! This old border castle up in the north—
and not a mortgage on the entire property! While, from his mother, a number of solid